OSI Affiliate Representative Platform
Hi. I’m Ean Schuessler and I would like to help represent Debian on the OSI board. Debian is already well represented by Stefano Zacchiroli but I feel like I can make a useful contribution.
Why I’m Running
To be perfectly honest, the most important motivation is that OSI board member Bruno Souza reached out to me asking if I would be a willing candidate. I have worked with Bruno on many projects and have always enjoyed collaborating with him and found the results very productive. We have participated in many Open Source Java initiatives together (arguably starting with the Open Sourcing of Java itself) and given talks together at numerous conferences on cloud technologies, Open Source Java and Open Source as a tool for business. I also worked with Simon Phipps on Open Java starting from the earliest days of the process at Sun and with Deborah Bryant on promoting the role of Open Source in government through the Open Source for America effort. They are pleasant, connected and knowledgeable colleagues who have consistently involved me in exciting initiatives. Therefore, an invitation to work with people I am already familiar with on a topic I take seriously is something I find hard to turn down.
Why I’m a Good Representative for Debian
Someone could make the criticism that I have not been active in Debian lately and that would be fair. I have many interests and, sadly, packaging software for Debian has not been at the top of my list. Believe me that it is not a lack of desire or interest but the necessity to prioritize. Even though I am not as active a developer as I once was, I am still a very active Debian user. I run Debian as the primary operating system for personal machines (at work, home, portable or otherwise) as well as on our corporate systems for internal services and clients. We use Debian to build solutions for organizations ranging from non-profits and civic activism to large corporations. In my commercial work we also use Debian to build advanced multimedia systems that would typically be the domain of proprietary software. I think these activities make me a good representative of what Debian and Open Source can do in the real world in a sustainable way that pays the bills. I bring hard won knowledge of these solution spaces and the challenges of running a business to the conversation.
Finally, I think I am a good representative for Debian because of history. I started participating Debian in its earliest days and, for a time, hosted many important systems for the project at a critical period. As a Debian Developer and, later, as President of Software in the Public Interest I worked on the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines through group collaboration and consensus building with some of the best known people in the Free Software world. While I may not have agreed with everyone I have always had an enduring respect for the incredibly intelligent and passionate people in this community. Participating in the process of Debian “growing up” and learning to temper its culture, work with commercial partners and be a player on a global stage of technological titans has been a wonderful inspiration even when it was confusing or frustrating.
What I Hope to Accomplish
First, I have always felt uneasy about the split that occurred between Debian and OSI in the process of building consensus around software licenses that are acceptable to the community. As time has passed and the community has grown I think it has become clearer than ever that the community is a lot bigger than any single organization and that we need processes to give a clear and consistent answer about what we believe in. We have transitioned from a technology enthusiasts’ hobby to a global movement and now there are lawmakers, businesses and billions of average people who rely on the digital world we have created.
Second, as I have gotten older I have come to see software not just as an artifact but, rather, as a way to share behavior patterns. In the corporate world they call these “best practices” and software is unique in its ability to not only encode best practices but to actively check and support their implementation. At its best, software is not just a book but a teacher. I believe OSI should not only work on best practices for software licensing but help promote software, Open Source software, as a platform for spreading best practices of all kinds. That mission can create better run businesses, more trustworthy governments and more productive citizens of local and global communities. I feel I am already a part of that mission and, as Debian's representative to the OSI board, can help strengthen and nurture the incredible phenomena we have built together.